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product positioninga process whereby a marketer identifies the set of products which compete with the product under analysis, identifies key product attributes in the set, collects information from customers/ prospects on perceptions of products and their attributes, determines the product's position on a perceptual map, determines customers' or prospects' ideal position(s), examines the fit between product position and market (customer) preference, and then selects a positioning strategy.
The technique of ‘perceptual mapping’ is often used to chart consumers' perceptions of brands currently on offer and to identify opportunities for launching new brands or to reposition an existing brand. This technique involves identifying perceived product characteristics which may be used to classify consumer opinions about brands of a product. Thus, in Fig. 70 the two axes of the ‘map’ show the perceived product attributes, ‘strong’/‘mild’ and ‘ordinary’/‘classy’ for cigarettes while B1 to B9 on the map indicate consumers' perceptions of existing brands of cigarettes on offer in terms of these characteristics. Brands show market segments which are currently being serviced by existing brands and ‘clusters’ of brands suggest larger volume segments.
A positioning strategy seeks to differentiate the firm's brand from competitors' brands in terms of product characteristics and ‘image’ so as to maximize sales potential. In positioning brands a firm may choose to offer a ‘copy-cat’ or ‘me-too’ brand in a well-served market segment which is very similar to competing brands, with minimal PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION (Brands B1 to B5 in the figure). This stratagem may be viable where this segment represents a high proportion of total market sales so that even a small brand share would result in large sales. Alternatively, a firm's MARKETING RESEARCH may reveal untapped demand potential in different market segments, so that it may choose to distance its brand from competing brands with a high degree of product differentiation, introducing a new brand (B10). See MARKET SEGMENTATION, PRICE QUALITY TRADE-OFF, PRICING POLICY, PRODUCT IMAGE, PRODUCT VARIETY, BRAND EXTENSION.